Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Staycation at Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore



What do you do when you are longing for a getaway but thanks to some reason or the other, your plans don't materialize? Well, you do the next best thing....you plan a staycation! A staycation, simply put, is a vacation in the place where you stay. It might sound a bit lame but trust me, a break is a break no matter where you go, passport or no passport. Just breaking away from the monotony of a routine is enough to get you recharged and rejuvenated. Apparently, staycations are very popular with Singaporeans and I think I'm beginning to understand why! 

For National day, we had a holiday on a Monday making it a much anticipated long weekend. Having not made any other plans, we decided on the spur of the moment on a staycation in Singapore. Since it was quite last minute, most places were already booked (including Resorts World Sentosa which would have been my first choice). For a couple who plans their vacations a great deal ahead of time and in painstaking detail, this was very unusual for us! After spending considerable time browsing Tripadvisor, we settled on Hotel Fort Canning for our sojourn. 

Hotel Fort Canning

Hotel Fort Canning is an iconic heritage hotel in Singapore nestled in the historical Fort Canning Park, a lovely and tranquil wedge of lush greenery located in the midst of the buzzing central business district. The history of this hotel dates back to the 20th century and is the result of the restoration of a former British Military Administration Building. The amazing location imparts an oasis of calm to this charming colonial style hotel. 





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After wrapping up work on a Friday evening at a breakneck pace, we headed to the hotel. For once, we were able to appreciate the convenience of not fussing over passports, tickets and heaps of luggage! Hubby was darling enough to head home pick up both our bags and pick me up directly from work. Our packing for this staycation the previous night had taken us all of 10 mins...hahaha
 
On arrival, the first thing that struck us was that the hotel has an old world charm to it. The elegant heritage structure has modern interiors which adds that touch of grandeur. The hotel is extremely well maintained (and smells great may I add!) and will leave you with a great first impression. 




We had booked the Deluxe Garden Room. I had studied the pictures on the hotel website in detail so I knew what to expect. On entering, I felt that the room was tastefully done, had great lighting and an air of opulence about it. It did seem a bit smaller than what I had expected though. The room featured a flat screen tv, complimentary wireless internet, a Nespresso coffee machine, monsoon rain shower and bathtub, electronic safe, hairdryer and mini fridge. The lighting, curtains and AC could be operated from a digital panel located at the bedside and even using the tv and its remote control (very cool!). The room was on the first floor and featured a french door opening up into a lovely private garden and sun deck. 

Okay so privacy isn't a big feature of the bathroom but if that doesn't matter to you then it isn't a deal breaker. The inviting deep bathtub begs to be soaked in but what I found a tad disappointing was that the hotel does not provide bubble bath (not that it stopped me from relaxing in it after an entire day of nothing but relaxation!). I mean come on....what fun is it if you don't have bubbles in a tub. It's a complete no-brainer. If I knew that beforehand, I would have gotten my own bubble bath. Humph! 




We loved the Nespresso machine. To my delight they had decaf capsules and low calorie sweetener so I was able to get my daily coffee fix! 


The private garden is the highlight of this room and we spent time enjoying our morning coffee and curling up with a good book. But we noticed that towards the evening, there were mosquitoes flying around so on the day we ordered room service for dinner, we settled on eating indoors. 


See how nicely the food we ordered from room service looked when it arrived! The bamboo tiffin carriers were perfect to not only keep the dishes warm but to stash away the plates after we were done with dinner. Don't you just hate it when you have dirty dishes lying around in your room? 


The next morning, I went exploring the hotel premises and I found two lovely swimming pools located right next to The Glass House restaurant. Since the hotel wasn't the least bit crowded (surprising considering it was a long weekend), I was able to leisurely walk around and take some pictures. 

The swimming pools are said to be filled with chlorine-free mineral water filtered by NASA technology.





This was the path from our room leading up to the swimming pools and restaurant respectively. The lush greenery within the premises was a treat for sore eyes. 




The Glass House, a modern Asian all-day dining bistro, is the main restaurant of the hotel where guests head over for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The daily breakfast buffet was served in the restaurant so we had our first meal there. The restaurant is gorgeous and as the name suggests, housed in glass so that diners can get a splendid view of the greenery straddling it from all sides. 



The breakfast comprised of an array of Western and local breakfast dishes accompanied with the usual cereals, fruit juice, coffee, assorted danish, yoghurt and fruit platter. There was a counter at the side with the chef serving freshly made pancakes and omelettes. Being the breakfast/brunch kind of girl, I certainly had my fill!

Originally, we thought we might stray away from the restaurant of the hotel for meals but we enjoyed the food and ambience at The Glass House so much that we were forced to come back for more. We sampled a variety of western and local dishes and the local dishes especially stood out. 

I must mention one of the restaurant staff, Grace Fu. She was a lovely local woman who attended to us at almost every meal. She greeted us warmly, suggested dishes to us and was hospitality personified.  In a place like Singapore where people generally don't tip, her passion and dedication to her job compelled us to do so!















Fort Canning Park

Located on a hill, Fort Canning Park is one of Singapore's most historic landmarks. The hill was recorded as Bukit Larangan prior to the arrival of Stamford Raffles in 1819, which means "Forbidden Hill" in the Malay language. It has witnessed Singapore's golden age, when Malay Kings ruled from its peak, and watched as the island transformed into a vibrant trading trading port in the 19th century. During World War II, the hill was instrumental in Singapore's war efforts with numerous military buildings located there. One of these buildings was the Fort Canning Bunker or Battle Box, where the decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese was made by the British. Many artifacts from Singapore's colourful history have survived on the hill and are still visible today.

Fort Canning Park is a lovely place to go on long walks, jog or get moving in general. After pigging out at The Glass House, me and hubby set off exploring different paths within the park. I got plenty of opportunities to experiment with my camera and take some non-food pics for a change! All the pics in this post have been taken by me in a sincere attempt to improve my mediocre photo taking ability. 




I was curious about a sign board I saw directing towards a Spice Garden. Apparently, the garden is a replica of the first experimental botanical garden in Singapore established by Sir Stamford Raffles. Raffles had noble ambitions for Singapore's agricultural development, and had sent from Bencoolen spices like clove plants and nutmeg seeds to be planted in the garden.

I took to the path and discovered a variety of spice plants. There was cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, wild black pepper, betel nut, ginger, vanilla and so many other exotic plants. 










I spent my time watching movies, reading books, soaking in the tub, enjoying scrumptious food, going on long walks, dabbling in photography and taking unlimited naps! The four glorious days that we were at Hotel Fort Canning passed by too quickly for my liking and I would have loved to extend my staycation. 

If you are looking for a peaceful retreat in Singapore, then you cannot go wrong with this hotel. What's more is that it is perfect for a romantic getaway. This luxury botique hotel has everything you could possibly want for a great staycation - fantastic location, serene surroundings, comfortable rooms, courteous staff and delicious food. Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore truly epitomizes the concept of 'urban oasis meets heritage hotel'.


My rating for this hotel is 4 out of 5 stars. 


Hotel Fort Canning
Address: 11 Canning Walk, 178881
Website: http://www.hfcsingapore.com/
Contact: +65 6559 6770
Fax: +65 6338 8915

Email: contact@hfcsingapore.com



Cheers,


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